Sunday, September 30, 2012

Andrew Gills, All Hallows Alumni

All Hallows Chapel (Tony Robertson)
"When I attend my old high school past pupils' mass this month, I will be the only man there who has the privilege of saying he is also an All Hallows Girl.I no longer see this  as a lack of "normality" or a point of my difference. And I am looking forward to honouring my gender history"
Andrew Gills

In 1996 Adinda Gills graduated from All Hallows School in Brisbane. On October 27 Andrew Gills will join his old classmates for the Past Pupils Mass. It will be Andrew's third reunion gathering  as a transgender person who sees this event as an opportunity to "honour my history as a girl".

Andrew writes of the welcome and hospitality he has experienced as a transgender person among his old classmates. I have no doubt that this comes from the lived tradition of the text which appears as a welcome message on the school web page:

All Hallows' is a large centrally located school, which caters for students from a wide variety of socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. It offers an extensive range of excellent academic, cultural and sporting opportunities. In its spiritual, pastoral and academic life, the School seeks to promote personal growth, the development of an informed conscience and commitment to work for social justice in the wider community.

Andrew's public announcement of this celebration challenges the language of the Catholic Church as well as the limits of its teaching on sexuality.  The authoritative  Catechism of the Catholic Church has no  entry for Transgender, nor even for Lesbian. Such people do not exist in the minds of the men behind this text.

So, thank you Andrew Gills, your classmates and other alumni of All Hallows Brisbane. Your witness to the rich grace of human identity and its diversity is a testimony to the  education of young women provided by the Sisters of Mercy. May other transgender persons who live in our Church and community also find  welcome and hospitality.
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